The swirling force of Texas politics

Despite Lead, Perry Focused on Campaign

By Omar Villafranca
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 7:51 AM CDT
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Perry Says He Focused on Policy, Not Polls

NBCDFW.com

Even though the latest polls show Gov. Rick Perry with a double-digit lead over his GOP rival Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry said this is the hardest he's ever had to work on a campaign.

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Perry Says He Focused on Policy, Not Polls

Polls show Gov. Rick Perry has a double-digit lead over his chief Republican rival, but he says he doesn't pay attention to polls.

Perry Says He Focused on Policy, Not Polls

Polls show Gov. Rick Perry has a double-digit lead over his chief Republican rival, but he says he doesn't pay attention to polls.
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Even though the latest polls show Gov. Rick Perry with a double-digit lead over his GOP rival Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry said this is the hardest he's ever had to work on a campaign.

Perry said this is the first time he's had a real primary opponent.

On the campaign trail, Perry touts Texas' strong economy and how his leadership has helped the business climate. Under his administration, people have flocked to Texas for a better life, he said.

But Texas' strong growth is a "double-edged sword," Perry said. The influx of people means the state needs to improve and expand infrastructure, including roads, he said.

To do that, every option to fund roads is up for discussion, including tolls, Perry said.

"We're going to need it all to build the transportation infrastructure we need in this state," he said. "We're going to need the ability to access every pot of money that's available. You're going to have to have all of those sources of dollars that are out there, whether it's the gasoline tax, whether it's tolls."

Perry has built a lead against Hutchison by painting her as a "Washington politician." While his recent campaign ads talk about bailouts and out-of-control spending, Perry admitted that Texas has used some of that money from Washington; namely, the $12 billion in stimulus money used to balance the state budget.

"We took dollars that didn't have strings attached," Perry said. "That was kind of my test for, 'Well, look, we send a lot of money to Washington, D.C., and we don't get back our fair share."

The governor also addressed the heated primary campaign against Hutchison, which his campaign aides have argued will cost millions of dollars and possibly tear apart the Texas Republican Party.

Perry said he feels Hutchison would do better by serving Texans in Washington, fighting Democrats in the Senate.

"Why are we going to spend what people estimate could be $40 million in this primary race, particularly with the poll numbers looking like they are, right?" Perry said. "Your common sense tells you, 'Why would you want to spend $40 million?' And that's a question I would suggest to you that a lot of people are asking today."

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